"People were coming after me every game, there were a lot of little injury-type things that the media didn't know about, almost every week but that's all in the past.Yesterday, the Greenville News posted an article on Clemson WR Sammy Watkins. After a tremendous freshman season that saw the Ft. Myers, Florida native earn All-American honors, Watkins had his numbers drop across the board in an injury plagued sophomore season. Well, he's back healthy, thinks he's figured out the problem, and seems pretty confident about going up against Georgia's new secondary.
But I'll let the man speak for himself....
"Last year is in the past," Watkins said, "I'm not worried about last year, I'm more grown up now, I'm past all that stuff; I'm focused on what Clemson can do this year, but not just this year, I mean these next four, five, six years.
"We put ourselves at that top level now," he said, "we're championship material, we're a team that can be 11-1, 12-0, whatever it takes, that's who we are."
As for what plagued him last year...
"Last year I got in trouble and I sort of kept to myself, I wasn't mature as far as nutrition and how to take care of my body, but I know that now and I've never been in better shape.
"I didn't really know how to hydrate, how to get good nutrition for myself, but I've learned that," Watkins said. "I will play at about 203 (pounds), about eight or so less than last year and it feels perfect at this weight; I feel explosive and I'm hungry to get back on the field and help my teammates."
"People were coming after me every game, there were a lot of little injury-type things that the media didn't know about, almost every week but that's all in the past."
And when he speaks about their schedule, particularly the season opener...
"Behind the scenes we like our schedule," he said. "People talk about Georgia, Florida State and South Carolina, but I'm not worried about them, I'm concentrated on what we do.
"If we come out and beat Georgia, not just beat ‘em but beat the mess out of ‘em like we should, I don't see no problems in getting started in the right direction. I don't have disrespect for them or for nobody else, I just believe we can be just the kind of team we want to be, the talent is here, we know how to win."
Sounds like Clemson expects to be able to put a lot of points on the board, and the man is ready to get after Georgia's young secondary that should be full of brand new to the system faces. He goes on to discuss how much he'd like opposing Ds to press him and get physical at the line of scrimmage, which isn't surprising for a player with Watkins ability to get deep.
Personally, I've repeatedly stated the fear of that secondary facing Clemson's passing attack of Boyd, Watkins, and others, and it being a recipe for disastrous big plays. But there are two potential bright spots for Georgia in this matchup. First and foremost is an extremely athletic and talented cover man in Damien Swann, who stepped up as one of the better corners in the SEC last season and is primed for a strong junior campaign. He just might be the type of defender Watkins was asking for in that article, a guy who isn't afraid to get in his face at the line of scrimmage.
Of course, just how much DC Todd Grantham asks him to press Watkins depends on how comfortable he is in what should some extremely inexperienced safeties covering over the top. One in particular, freshman Tray Matthews had a heralded spring practice including numerous big hits. If Watkins is willing to run a few crossing patterns, Matthews may well attempt to take a few kill shots, especially after reading this. Of course, there is a significant risk/reward with such a big hitter as we've seen in the past with guys like Thomas Davis and Greg Blue. When they connect on the hit, it's a thing of beauty that gets an energy flowing throughout the stadium. But if Matthews misses, Watkins is more than capable of turning the play into a quick 6 pointsm and creating a huge amount of energy from the home fans on August 31st. That, and new rule changes could see a bit hit remove both players from the ball game.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are 60 days away from Georgia starting it's 2013 football season, and have just begun the last month without college football of this calender year. The long wait is almost over!